Tag Archives: Fear

Fear Or Faith – Which will you feed?

An old Cherokee teaches his grandson about life, saying:

“A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

Faith and fear are two powerful wolves that do battle against each other. The wolf we feed determines whether we live a life of adventure or absentia; whether we live as a warrior or a wimp; whether we are a champ or a chump; whether we live a life of wonder or we live our lives in the wilderness (dry and desert place without life).

Speaking of wilderness, the bible tells of a story of a group of people who after spending roughly two years in the wilderness were faced with the option – feed their faith or feed their fear. Ahead of them was an awesome land flowing with milk and honey –  a land promised to them by God, therefore a group of twelve men were sent ahead to spy out the land for 40-days.

While each of the twelve men lived in the same environment, they experienced different realities. Ten of the twelve men said the congregation should stop making progress because they had fed their fear. The last two of the twelve said to take possession of the land because they had feed their faith. By this, we already see that fears puts a halt to progress in life, but faith always looks to move forward.

The story, which can be found in 13th and 14th Book of Numbers teaches us about the symptoms of faith and fear. Below are some symptoms the story points out. Hopefully, this will help you identify whether you are walking in faith or fear.

Fear

Numbers 13:28: Fear see’s what is good just as people with faith see what is good, but fear chooses to focus on the bad, and what could go wrong. Fear is not grateful for what it has but always looks for what is missing. They key word to ponder is the word ‘Nevertheless’

Numbers 13:31: Fear is a naysayer (always says I can’t) instead of a can-doer (which says I can). Fear discourages people and tells them there is no point in trying.

Numbers 13:32: Fear exaggerates and tells lies to defend its position. Look at this verse again. If the land truly devours people, how is it that they were able to stay there for 40-days?

Numbers 13:33: Fear causes us to have a poor self-image and assumes other people see us the same way. Think of this verse where it says, we saw ourselves as grasshoppers and we were as grasshoppers in their sight.

Numbers 14:2: Fear always complains and always looks to blame others.

Numbers 14:2 Fear would rather die than try – fear gives up before it ever gets a chance to begin.

Numbers 14:3: Fear would rather go back to the past it knows rather than a future that is promised. Fear would rather go for security rather than go after significance.

Numbers 14:4: Fear is disobedient to God and rebels against Him.

Numbers 14:4: Fear does not look to past victories for strength but quickly forgets them

Numbers 14:10: Fear does not listen to reason or opposite points of view. In fact, it can’t stand opposing views.

Faith

Numbers 13:30: Faith always quietens an intense situation to provide a calm in the middle of a storm.

Numbers 13:30: Faith looks to take immediate action and does not procrastinate to take hold of God’s promises. Faith does not see obstacles but opportunities.

Numbers 14:8: Faith focuses on the good and not the bad

Numbers 14:8: Faith understands that all things are possible with God

Numbers 14:9: Faith see’s things through the eyes of God and not through the eyes of man.

Which Will You Feed

As the story goes, ten of the spies fed their fears and caused others in the wilderness to feed their fear. As a result, all of them wondered in the wilderness aimlessly, and all died in the wilderness (except the two who had faith) and never entered into the good land that was promised them. Only the two who had faith entered into their promise land.

This carries some warning for us:

  • Be careful not to listen to or take advice from people who are feeding their fears – fearful advice will keep you in the wilderness (desert) of life
  • Feeding our fears will lead us to wonder aimlessly in life and we will miss out on God’s best for us
  • Living with those who are feeding their fears will impact how quickly we will be able to live God’s best, so be careful who you associate with for it will delay destiny.

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What Does It Mean To “Work Out Your Salvation”?

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure – Philippians 2:12-13

The first time I ran across these verses, I scratched my head for I found them both contradictory and confusing.

Contradictory because it seemed to go against everything I knew about salvation. “I thought salvation was a free gift, so what is this verse talking about“, I murmured to myself.

Confusing because it seemed to suggest at first that we are working, and then it goes on to suggest that God is working. “Who is working here“, I pondered. “Is it me, Is it God, Is it both?“.

As I sought out an explanation from others, I quickly came to understand that this is a passage that divides the church into doctrinal factions. Moreover, depending on the faction, these verses are either used as pillars, wholly ignored, or only spoken about in private.

If like me you are a little bamboozled by this passage, I hope the next few abbreviated sections helps to shed some light. If it only persists in confusing you further, I apologize in advance.

Quick context: First, Paul wrote the his letter to the body of believers in Philippi (not unbelievers) as a thank you and encouraging letter. Second, these two verses complete a passage where Paul speaks about us having the mind of Christ – mind of humility and obedience – which ultimately led to Jesus’ name being exalted (read verses 5-11

What It Means To Work

There are multiple words for the word work in Greek. The Greek word translated as work in the line that says “work out your own salvation” is NOT the Greek word for toil and labor. The word work here means to cause or to effect (as in a change). In other words, it means to trigger.

The Greek word translated as works in the line that says “it is God who works in you” is the Greek word that means active.

So we see that it our job to trigger, and it is His job to be active in us.

What Own Salvation Means

Context reminder: This is written to a body of believers as encouragement and thank you.

No matter how you view Philippians 2:12-13, it is safe to say that all believers have triggered salvation by choosing to put their faith in Jesus Christ. This being the case, the question that lingers is this: What is Apostle Paul talking about when  he speaks of triggering (working out) our own salvation.

Context reminder: The preceding versus speak to Jesus the man having the mind of humility and obedience.

The word salvation simply means safety or to be delivered.

We (believers) have been delivered from the penalty of sin (God’s mercy), we presently have been given the ability to be delivered from the power of sin (God’s grace), and we will be taken away from the presence of sin (God’s final victory).

By this we see that salvation is three-fold – encompassing the past, present, and future. All of it is done out of the Father’s love and accomplished by Him through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, a triune God accomplishes a triune salvation where our spirit is saved (past), our soul is being saved (present), and our body will be saved (future).

Our soul consists of our mind, will, and emotion. It will either conform to this world, thereby causing us or triggering us (working) to experience hell on earth in the kingdom of this world, or it will be conformed to the guidance of the Spirit of God, thereby causing us to experience heaven on earth in the kingdom of God. The choice is ours – choose a hellish life outside of the influence of the Spirit of God or choose a heavenly life inside of the influence of the Spirit of God.

While on earth, Jesus triggered the Kingdom of God to be manifested by having a mind set on humility and obedience. By so doing, God was active (worked) in Him to will and to do His good pleasure (compare this to Philippians 2:12-13). The pleasure of God was for Jesus to be the solution to people’s spiritual, psychological, and physical ailments, as detailed in miracle after miracle. Awesome!!!

Therefore, we see that these verses are an encouragement and admonition for us all – like Jesus – to trigger (work) our own deliverance (own salvation) from the kingdom of this world and to be delivered into the kingdom of God (which Jesus said was at hand and made available to us) by having a mind set on humility and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

Moreover, we see that Philippians 2:12-13 is speaking of our present salvation while on earth from the craziness sin will cause in our lives if we do not bend our mind, will, emotions to humility and obedience to the Spirit of God.

Why is it we have to do it? It is because Jesus the man is gone from the earth. He has already made the Kingdom available to us. Just as He won’t force us to accept Him, He won’t force us to live in the Kingdom He has already made available to us.

What Fear and Trembling Means

Looking up the original meaning of Greek word translated as fear in the passage reveals two words. One translates as possession or hold, while the other translates as awe or reverence. Hence the part that says “with fear” translates into with a possession of reverence or holding onto awe.  

Now if the question is awe of what? The answer is awe of what God has made available for such a man who operates in humility and obedience. Nothing should awe us more than what God did for His Son when He lived a life of unmatchable humility and obedience (see Philippians 2:8 -11)

The word trembling translates into quaking with dread. If the question is the dread of what? The answer is dread of missing out on the life that God paid for through the sacrifice of His Son. Is that encouraging?

Summary

God desires that we trigger a life of living in His kingdom (which has been delivered to us) by establishing a mindset of humility and obedience through taking a hold of the awe of what God has in store for us and a dread of missing out on it.

In the kingdom of God abides love, joy, peace, self-control, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, patience and more regardless of our circumstance. Why would we not trigger that? I hope you agree that indeed good for us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling

 

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How Do I Guard My Heart (Part II) – Prayer and Thanksgiving

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God  and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus – Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

Instead of guarding our own hearts, Philippians 4:6-7 makes it clear that is it the job of the peace that comes from God to guard our hearts when we go to Him in prayer and with thanksgiving. Once we submit our request to God, we can rest assured that He is not hiding His face from us (Ezekiel 39:29) and that He who has the whole world in His hands loves us so much that He is working everything together for our good.

See, prayer and petition is the way we cast our cares upon God (1 Peter 5:7). It is what guards our heart and mind from worrying (anxiety) by unleashing the peace of God into our hearts. Therefore, when the bible says to ‘guard our heart for out of it flow the issues of life’, it is saying that we should guard our hearts from worrying (through prayer and thanksgiving), because worrying which comes from fear (or a lack of trust in God) causes the issues of our lives.  Indeed, it is a lack of trust in God that causes us to choose the world over the word (see How Do I Guard My Heart – The Word) and so unleashes turmoil in our world

Light-bulb moment: The way to stop worrying is to start praying wholeheartedly in trust and surrender.

In conjunction with Part I of this two -part series, we see that the way to guard our heart is to spend time in the word, through discernment, via prayer and supplication, and with thanksgiving. It is these spiritual disciplines when done in trust and surrender that allows us to walk obediently in the Spirit. They are what guard our hearts and minds from the filth of the world.

Without understanding this, the tendency is to guard our own hearts away from people out of fear. Since there is no fear in love and fear involves torment (see 1 John 4:18), it is no wonder so many people are tormented in their relationships. Let me explain:

Many times for a person – let’s say Kevin – who has been hurt before, guard your heart means ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’. If Kevin does not understand how to guard his heart with the word, prayer, supplication, thanksgiving, and through discernment, then ‘do not allow yourself to be hurt again’ for Kevin turns into ‘scrutinize my partners every move, try to control her life, and never allow yourself to fully trust her’.

Alas for Kevin, fear-based doubt and self-preservation leads the relationship instead of love-based faith. In response, Kevin’s partner feels suffocated, controlled, and imprisoned. As a result she fights back and the relationship goes through turmoil and fails.

Kevin, not realizing his fear was the culprit of the turmoil and failure feels that he successfully protected himself from hurt. He says to himself ‘Aha, I knew she was going to hurt me’. He does not realize that he has hurt himself. He has made his worst fear come to pass by taking fear-based actions which made it so – all because he did not know what is meant to guard his heart.

In the example, Kevin thought he was protecting himself from hurt, but all he was doing was keeping himself from love.

This also applies in our relationship with God. If we do not know how to guard our hearts, we guard our heart from love (God) and so are unable to unlock the power of God over our lives.

Food for Thought: When we guard our heart, we guard love (God) right out of it. When He guards our heart, He allows love to flow right into it.

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Is it ever okay NOT to honor my father and mother?

We are taught to honor our father and mother so that our days may be prolonged (Exodus 20:12). Before breathing a sigh of relief that this scripture is found in the Old Testament, Apostle Paul repeats this instruction in his letter to the church in Ephesus – teaching us that it is applicable to us today and reminding us that it is the first commandment with a promise.

But does this mean we have to acquiesce to every wish of our parents? Absolutely not! The bible tells us that we are to not to seek the honor that comes from man but to seek the honor that comes from God (John 5:41).

What does this mean? It means that we are never to honor the wishes of any man – including our parents – above honoring God. Why? This is because in being human, the wishes of our parents are at times driven by their fear, prejudice, selfishness, history, upbringing, culture, and life experiences.

In essence, the will and wishes of man is not always good for us and acceptable to God. Conversely, the will and wish of God for our lives is always good, acceptable and perfect (see Romans 12:2)

Lightbulb MomentIt is alright to honor the wishes of our parents only if what they want lines up with what God tells us to do as instructed by the Holy Spirit.

Put another way, our ultimate authority is God and not man – not matter how close the relationship! The perfect example of honoring God above man is that of Jesus. If Jesus had listened to his family, He would not have done the will of His father to do good and heal those who were oppressed of the devil (Acts 10:38). We know this because the bible tells us that His family wanted to whisk Him away from the crowd to which He was healing, setting free, and preaching. Why? They thought He was out of His mind (Mark 3:20)!

Have you wondered why Jesus’ teachings and wonderful miracles did not excite His family? It is because they were only thinking of themselves! See, Jesus was the first-born son of His household; therefore, the responsibility of caring for the family fell on Him after Joseph’s death. Being a skilled carpenter and not breaking a jot of the law, He provided for His family very well! How do we know Jesus was well off? We know for the God promised great things for those who kept his commandments and obeyed His voice (see Deuteronomy 28). Since God is not a liar, it is clear that He commanded blessings into everything to which Jesus put His hand –  including His storehouse (see Deuteronomy 28:8).

See, the family of Jesus had it good! By Jesus leaving it all behind to embark on this new ministry of His, He had not only seemingly shunned His responsibility as the patriarch of His family, but they were also worried that He was no longer going to be able to provide for them! They would no longer live the good life. They wondered to themselves: ‘Why is He leaving this goodness to go perambulate the wilderness – just walking from place to place? God has blessed Him and given Him a duty to take care of us. And why is He going against our traditions? What will people say? Why is He simply throwing all He has away? Surely, He has lost His mind’.

You see, His family were being selfish in thinking only about themselves without pausing to think of how wonderful Jesus’ ministry was for those He was setting free.

Thank goodness Jesus did not decide to honor His family above the word and voice of God. Can you imagine if He had said: ‘Well, I must honor my family and so stop what I am doing’? How horrible for the entire multitude to which He ministered; how horrible for all humanity! Though His family did not understand, He understood what He was doing, and that is all that mattered. As we know, His own brother did not believe in Him at the beginning but would later come to understand and believe.

This tells us that every decision made in Christ will sooner or later be understood by all who doubted us. Why? It is because wisdom (the instruction of God) is always justified by her children (its results). In obeying the voice of God, Jesus not only honored God but ultimately honored His family and all humanity by paying the price for our sins on the cross and honoring us with a way back to God.

Moreover, He made sure His mother was going to be well taken care off as well (John 19:26).

Lightbulb MomentThe only way to truly honor man with love is to honor God. Anything done outside of God is not love but fear in disguise.

Food for Thought: I am right for honoring my parents, but I am wrong for honoring them above God.

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5 Steps Towards Greatness (Part V) – Surrender

The pyramid of Khephren (Khafre)As mentioned in Part IV of this series, Jesus was not released onto the ministry He was called to fulfill until He had passed the test set for Him by the Holy Spirit.

Now, while being equipped, prepared, tested, and released onto ministry is one thing, actually fulfilling the purpose to which we are called is quite another. The essential quality we must have to run a good race and so win the prize of greatness that is set before us is the quality of surrender. We must have a heart and attitude that thinks nothing of ourselves but thinks everything of God. We must not rely on our own ability but wholly depend on His ability.

Jesus had this heart and attitude. The bible tells us that although He was equal to God, He made Himself of no reputation (thought nothing of Himself) but out of love and in humility and obedience took the form of a man and sacrificed Himself on the cross (see Philippians 2:5-9). Wow! How incredible that is for so many reasons. What a love driven surrender to purpose!

See, surrender was behind every single thing that Jesus did while on earth; surrender to the will of the Father as revealed by the Holy Spirit. This is why Jesus said ‘I only do what I see the Father doing and I say only what the Father tells me to say (John 14:10, John 5:19 paraphrase).  This is why He stayed behind to spend time with the biblical scholars in the temple at the age of twelve; why He chased out the money changers and traders out of the temple; why He willingly chose to die on the cross for us instead of choosing to let the cup of wrath that we deserve pass from Him.

Indeed, Jesus has shown us that surrender is the final ingredient needed to achieve true greatness that the previous four keys simply give us a chance of attaining.

But there is more! He not only showed us the key to greatness through His life, He also taught us. He taught us that the greatest person in the kingdom of heaven is one who becomes as a child and humbles himself (see Matthew 18:4). Just as a little child is wholly dependent on his/her parents for every single thing and those parents are the center of the child’s world, so does the Father desire to be the center of our world. He wants us to center our life around Him so He can lavish us with the very best that He has planned out for us. He wants us to center our life around Him so He may grant us life and grant it to us more abundantly.

Lightbulb MomentWhen we are most helpless is when Christ is most helpful.

So here is my question to you: Are you living the abundant life of love, joy, peace and so much more? If not, it may well be that you are holding onto something that should be surrendered to God. What is it? Offense, past experiences, past hurts, a person, a relationship, an idea, some fear, pride? Whatever it is, it is time to surrender it so that you may move forward towards greatness!

Now is the time for you to once again commit to a life of surrender to Christ. There is no better Christmas present to give you than Jesus. He is the present that will deposit all other presents you could ever imagine onto your lap.

Lightbulb MomentSurrender your life to Christ who is calling you today and He will take you on an adventure you will never forget.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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Holding onto Offense – Who made you the ‘Righteous’ Judge?

In life, while being offended is perhaps to some extent inevitable, holding onto offense is definitely avoidable and is a choice! If we are to neglect the fear-based folly of being easily offended, a deep look into why we hold onto offense reveals a prideful mind that thinks the world of ourselves or a mind that thinks the person who offended will get away with what they have done.  So, many times we react in essence because deep down we think God’s justice is not quite just enough; we think that our justice is much more applicable and right, and we truly do not believe that the offender will reap whatever they sow! We tend to hold onto offense and act upon it when we cannot stand the thought of God being merciful to the person who has done us or our loved one’s wrong. Like Jonah, we would rather have the ‘Ninevites’ of our lives be judged and punished by our own measuring stick instead of God’s.

Our tendency to hold onto offense is born out of self-righteousness. When we say ‘I cannot believe this person did this to me; I must punish them by…’ we have become the judge. In becoming the judge, we have unconsciously taken the place of God and have unknowingly entered into pride. And because pride comes before destruction, it turns out that we punish ourselves by holding onto offense.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: While God’s justice spares the innocent while dealing with the guilty; our justice punishes the innocent and the guilty alike. God’s justice is pure; our justice is perverted!

The bible warns of the folly of meting out our own justice in the story of Absalom (the son of David) and his brother Amnon. The scripture tells us that Absalom was bent on exacting the revenge he saw fitting on Amnon after Amnon had wickedly forced himself on Tamar (see 2 Samuel 13:32). Rather than wait on God’s justice to be done on Amnon, he determined after two years that he had waited long enough for the ‘just’ price of death to be paid by Amnon. Absalom simply could not wait on God’s timing nor was he willing to consider that death might not be the right price to pay.

While our human emotion and sentiment may tend to say that what Absalom did served Amnon right, the problem is that what he did also served him (Absalom) wrong. As a result of his justice, he broke the fellowship he had with his father (David), he caused division and turmoil within the family, he lost the good life he was enjoying in Jerusalem, and he had to flee in fear and live in fear of retribution. Yes, Absalom punished Amnon, but he also punished himself.

Conversely, David was a man whose heart was surrendered to God and so relied on God’s justice in God’s timing. Rather than take his opportunity to kill Saul (see 1 Samuel 26), David spared Saul who was a major source of offense to David and instead said in regards to Saul that ‘As the Lord lives, the Lord shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go out to battle and perish’ (see 1 Samuel 26:10). Although David’s aide saw the opportunity to kill Saul as God’s diving intervention and blessing, David knew better. He knew exacting justice by his own means and in his own way would profit him nothing. Here is how things turned out: Saul did go out to battle and died as ordained by God – therefore, God’s justice was done in God’s way. Furthermore, David got the kingdom God he was promised by God without fear of retribution for Saul’s murder. Not bad eh?

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Like David, we should not hold onto offense and so miss the mark and pervert justice BUT instead should allow God to have His way and so inherit the Kingdom He has promised us.

Food for Thought: You do not like yourself too much if you hold onto offense

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Gifts and Talents: What God Thinks About Us Squandering Our Talents

Just as the duty of every servant is to attend to the duty of his master, the duty of every believer is to attend to the purpose for which we were born, and do the will of God to which we are called. Being the just God that He is, He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit who equips us with the ability and wherewithal to accomplish His purpose. Yes, we have all been granted a measure of gifts and talents to accomplish the purpose to which we are called. To those of us that decide to use those gifts and talents to do His will, He grants more grace (in the form on power, capability and ability) and magnifies what He has purposed for us.

“Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents” – Matthew 25:28

In contrast, God does not too much fancy those of us that choose not to channel and use our given gifts and talents. He does not take too kindly to us using fear as an excuse for not carrying out His will nor is He impressed with us when we do absolutely nothing of value with our lives. He does not want us to simply bury our talents in the ground but to use them. Why? It is for the purpose of good works that He created us in His image in the first place (see Ephesians 2:10). It is for the aim of accomplishing His purpose and will that He grant us the Holy Spirit who empowers us to be courageous and so to overcome the fear that comes from the enemy.

When the servant told his master he hid his talent out of fear, the master responded with ‘you wicked and lazy servant’ (see Matthew 25:26)! While this may seem harsh, it is exactly how God feels when we squander our gifts and talents out of fear or whatever reason.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we do not use our gifts and talents, God says to us: You know my will and yet you choose not to take any action and use what I have given you. You are wicked and lazy!

God calls us lazy because the only reason we fall into inaction out of fear is due to our choice not to spend time in His Word. For surely when we spend time with Him, we are transformed into His image – the image or courage, love, boldness, strength, and power. We no longer allow fear to stop us from doing the good He wants of us but we overcome the evil of fear with the love of good. But when we choose to be lazy and fail to build ourselves up, we become like the man who refuses to go out into the street from his house for he says there is a lion out there to devour him (see Proverbs 22:13). Poverty is the end of such a man for he will lose what he has – just as the talent was taken away from the servant.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: When we spend time with love, it casts our all the fear that causes inaction.

God calls us wicked because we have chosen not to advance the kingdom of God by choosing not to use our gifts and talents. See, the desire of God is that we sow the talents He has given us so that is yields up to a 100-fold. He wants us to bless the work of our hands so that we can be a blessing to other people. Here is how the Word puts it:

“…It is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His Covenant…” – Deuteronomy 8:18

Thus, being wealthy is all things helps God establish the Covenant He made with Abraham and that is now made available to all nations or all people of the world through the sacrifice of Jesus. But if we do not use the power (gifts, talents, favor, courage, etc.) that comes from the Holy Spirit to become wealthy in all things, then how are people attracted to us? If people do not see us exhibiting the gift of hope and encouragement in a dire situation, then why would they come to us to inquire of how we can be so joyful? What I am saying is this: God wants to be wealthy is all things so that we can be light to this world; so that people are attracted to the light; so that we can be more effective has His ministers in this world. By burying our gifts and talents, we have hidden our light and we have not loved our lost family members in essence. We hinder the work of God in having those who do not know Him from entering into His Covenant.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: We do not allow our lives to minister to other people when we fail to use the gifts and talents He has given us.

Food For Thought: We miss the mark (sin) when we fail to use our gifts and talents – it shows a love deficiency

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The Mind of Christ – The Obedience That Wins

While humility, prayer, and seeking the face of God are the first three legs of our race towards victory, obedience is the power that pushes us across the finish line and unleashes the blessings of God in our lives. This analogy to the relay in track and field illustrates that obedience is only powerful when done out a heart of love – a heart set on humility which in turn leads us to prayer and seeking the face of God. If our obedient action is not motivated by love, then it is motivated by greed or by fear. Too many of us are obedient to God because we simply want to use Him as our cash cow!

 Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Cash cow obedience is not born out of love but instead is born out of our greed and self-seeking.

Jesus gives an example of obedience that does not please Him when he describes the people that put ashes on their cheeks to show they are fasting. Although they were being obedient to fast (for Christ says when and not if you fast), the motivation behind it all was the adulation of the people around them. In actuality, their action had morphed into a form of idolatry, with their god being the need to be recognized. Since the penchant to be glorified rather than give God all the glory comes out of fear (of not being good enough, or of rejection), we see that it cannot please God for it is not done out of love. This is why Cain’s offering was not pleasing to God; why Jesus called the seemingly perfect and obedient keepers of the law brood of vipers; why our obedience at times do not yield any fruit for us

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Obedience is simply a seed. Just like any other seed, it has to be sown into ground that has been fertilized by love to be effective and yield fruit

Since the opposite good is evil (wickedness) and anything that does not flow out of God (love) is no good, it becomes clear that the command to ‘turn away from our wicked ways’ is not simply talking about turning away from disobedience, but is also addressing obedience that is steeped in fear. Therefore, the only way to turn away from our wicked way is to turn to love. Why turn to love-driven obedience? We do it so that healing can take place in our life and we can have peace. See, while our obedience can yield fruit in other people’s lives, why we are obedient is what determines whether fruit is produced in our lives. A fantastic example of this is Prophet Jonah.  Although his preaching of the Gospel yielded the fruit of deliverance for the people of Nineveh, it produced bitterness in him because He was not obedient out of love. This is why Jonah asked God to take his life even when Nineveh was spared. Sheesh!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: What we do determines whether other people are blessed. Why we do it is what determines whether we are blessed!

Once we have truly developed the heart of love behind obedience, the question is how do we put it into practice? How do we ensure we do not fall into the trap of looking at ourselves in the mirror and forgetting what we look like as soon as we leave – of falling into complacency? (See James 1: 23 – 24).

Some Practical ways to ensure we do not fall into complacency and into disobedience are as follows:

  • Read the Word (Give no place to the devil – Ephesians 4:27): We do this by arming ourselves with the sword of the Spirit (the Word of God). We have to get to the point where we are so filled up with the Word of God that it leaves no room for any junk to enter.
  • Have Accountability Partners (Bear one anothers burdens – Galatians 6:7): We help each other lift our loads when we do not forsake godly gatherings but keep each other accountable to lead a godly life
  • Stay Away from Ungodly Company (A little leaven leavens the whole lump – 1 Corinthians 5:11): We have to ensure we rid ourselves of the sin (leaven) that is leavening our lump. At times, that means we must distance ourselves from people who do not care to discard their sin for any leaven is infectious and has a tendency to spread. Once the leaven is removed, the fellowship may be restored. Note that the relationship was never broken.

Food For Thought: Those who love God obey Him because they love Him

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The Love Position – Is my salvation predestined or do I have free will?

Are some predestined by God to be eternally saved (from eternal punishment) while others are not, or do we all have the option of choosing our eternal home? In other words, do we believe in predestination or do we believe in determination (free-will)? Rather than talk about what we feel, let’s take a look at what God shows us through His scriptures.

In the beginning, God created a perfect abode for man to lay his head. Man had no knowledge of evil in this abode and so there was no shame, fear, or justice to speak of. Man had dominion over every living creature and his only job was to tend the garden. See, God so loved man that he created a world where man could live in perfect and perpetual fellowship with man. How do we know this? He created a world without sin (for sin came with knowledge of evil) and did not keep the tree of life (eternal) away from man. Truly, God predestined man to live the good life forever!

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: God so loved man that He predestined Him to live an awesome life of perfect and perpetual fellowship with Him

Now, since true love is never forced (for anything forced involves control and torment) but is freely chosen and given, God (who is love) gave man free-will to choose. Too bad man chose to end the good life. But when man did this, God was still merciful to stop him from eating of the fruit of life by removing him from the garden and guarding the way to the tree of life with a flaming sword (see Genesis 3:24). You see, if man had eaten of the fruit of life after his disobedience, he would have lived forever in eternal separation from God. God did not want that! So while putting him out the garden seemed harsh, it was actually done out of love. See, as soon as man disobeyed, God already had a master-plan to redeem man from being separated from Him but rather to be redeemed through the shed blood of Christ.

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: God so loved man that even after exercising his free-will in disobedience, God predestined him not to be eternally separated from Him but to be redeemed through Christ’s sacrifice

To reiterate, when man exercised his free-will of disobedience, both evil and justice entered the world. Being a just God, He had to mete out the punishment that man’s choice (sin) deserved. But thankfully, He found Abraham righteous enough to make a covenant with him that through his Seed (Jesus) all the nations will be blessed (with the covenant blessings available in the Holy Spirit).

“In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice” – Genesis 22:18

“Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say “And to seeds,” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed,” who is Christ” – Galatians 3:16

See, because of Abraham’s faith, God predestined man (all nations) to be blessed through the redemptive work of Christ. Note that is does not say “this” nation or “that” nation, but it says all nations – meaning all peoples or all mankind.  Thus, it is clear that God wants all mankind (all nations) to be saved. But man still has the same free-will to choose Christ, just as the first man (Adam) and subsequent men had the free-will to disobey God in the garden at the beginning. Paul puts it this way:

“For since the creation of the word His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” – Romans 1:20

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: God so loved man after the fall that He predestined all mankind to be saved through faith in Jesus Christ

How much God loves us – that He would have His own son slewed in order for us to be saved from eternal separation from Him when we choose to believe in His Son (see John 3:16). All that is required is belief! It is not based on performance or our own self-accessed righteousness (which is as filthy rags) but it is a free gift which is irrevocable!

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a free gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” – Ephesians 2:8-9

“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” – Romans 11:29

But the above is not the end of God’s love, there is more. For those that choose to believe in His Son, He seals with His Spirit who upon our choosing can direct our path. When we choose to walk in the Spirit and allow Him to lead us, we are lavished with the fullness of the covenant blessings – riches, honor, life, peace, and so much more. We are able to live heaven on this earth just as God designed it from the beginning! We do not have to wait till we get to heaven (our destination once saved) to experiences goodness.That is not to say that bad things will not happen to us (for we still live in a fallen world), but that things are eventually working for our good (see Romans 8:28)

So, looking through the lens of the love of God from the beginning of the world, it now becomes clear what Paul is talking about in Romans 8:29-30:

“For whom He foreknew (all nations or all mankind), He also predestined (through our acceptance of Jesus) to be conformed to the image of His Son……Moreover whom He predestined (all nations), He called (to accept Jesus); whom He called, these He also justified (though the blood of Jesus).

Thus, predestination does not work completely independent of free-will but in conjunction with it. Based on what we know from scriptures, we can conclude the following:

  • God predestined man to live in perpetual and perfect fellowship with Him when He created the world (God’s choice)
  • Man chose to break that fellowship through sin (Man’s choice)
  • God predestined (called) man to be saved from  separation through Christ’s sacrifice (God’s choice)
  • Man can neglect the call to salvation and justification  (Man’s choice)
  • God predestined man to enjoy the benefits of accepting His call to salvation through the Holy Spirit (God’s choice)
  • Man can choose not to walk in the Spirit although they have already accepted Christ unto unnecessary suffering (Man’s choice)

Lightbulb MomentLight-bulb moment: Predestination is not the problem –  what God predestines is good. Rather, the problem is our choice – for some reason we like choosing death instead of life.  Adam was predestined to live a sweet life, but his choice made him live a “not so sweet” life!

Food for Thought: When we choose love (God), we are predestined to live a blessed life

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